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Nadal arrives in Chile for match, test knee

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Nadal arrives in Chile for match, test knee

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) Rafael Nadal arrived in Chile on Friday and will test his injured left knee in competition for the first time next week after sitting out for seven months - the longest break of his career.

The 26-year-old Nadal will head off to the nearby coastal resort city of Vina del Mar, where he will play in his first event since losing in the second round of Wimbledon in June.

Nadal, who will try to win his eighth French Open title later this year, said the knee still bothers him and he may have to reduce tournament appearances.

``My knee is much better, and this is the most important thing now because there's no risk of a big injury,'' Nadal said at the airport in Santiago. ``But it's still bothering me, which will keep me from playing all the time, which I would like to do.

``You have to start somewhere. I think this is the right moment and the right place.''

Nadal is one of the best clay-court players in the history of the game. But he downplayed what might happen in Chile and at clay-court events in Brazil and Mexico later this month.

``It's been months - seven months - since I've competed,'' Nadal said. ``This will be my first time playing in a very long time. Anything can happen. I'll try not to let it happen, but you have to be prepared for everything and be patient.''

Nadal has appearances to make before he opens play, including a meeting with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, who is a big sports fan.

Nadal's first test will come Tuesday in a doubles match with Juan Monaco, followed by his opening match Wednesday in singles.

``I'm here to give the best I have right now,'' Nadal said, ``and hope the knee holds up.''

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Yeah, Tom Wilson knows all about the Ryan Reaves autographs

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NBC Sports Washington

Yeah, Tom Wilson knows all about the Ryan Reaves autographs

ARLINGTON, Va. – It’s been a frustrating season for Tom Wilson.

Wilson returned to the Capitals lineup on Nov. 13 after missing the first 14 games of the season due to a suspension. He caught fire offensively, but after just 11 games, he was injured when Vegas Goldn Knights forward Ray Reaves delivered a late, blind-side hit to Wilson that knocked him out of the game and out of the lineup.

Wilson has not played since, but he skated in a non-contact jersey on Tuesday and was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice. After practice, head coach Todd Reirden called his return for Friday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes a “possibility.”

When he does return, Wilson will try to continue the hot streak he was on with 14 points in just 11 games.

“It sucks,” Wilson said. “Timing is never good for those things, but especially when the team’s playing well and you’re feeling good out there. It sucks, but it’s hockey. Injuries happen.”

Following the game in Vegas, Reaves said, “I thought he was just looking at his pass and… ran into a lion in the jungle.”

With his chance to spark a war of words with the Vegas forward, Wilson elected instead to take the high road.

“There’s really no point in me talking about it at this point,” he said. “It was a week ago now. It is what it is. It’s hockey, a physical sport. Stuff happens.”

Following his postgame comments, Reaves doubled down and signed a number of pictures of an injured Wilson and wrote down “He ran into a lion in the jungle” from his postgame quote. The pictures were up for sale by a sports memorabilia company, but pulled by the company, reportedly per Reaves’ request.

News of the pictures practically broke the internet for a day so it would have been hard for Wilson to avoid, but he did confirm Wednesday that yes, he had heard about the signed pictures.

“Yeah, obviously heard about it,” Wilson said. “[Reaves] can do whatever he wants. It’s up to him. He controls that stuff. Everyone carries themselves differently. It’s up to him. There’s no point in me paying attention to any of that kind of stuff. I saw it, but it is what it is.”

Washington and Vegas will not play again this season so fans will have to wait until 2019-20 for these two to settle their differences on the ice, unless of course both teams meet in the Stanley Cup Final for a second year.

While Wilson downplayed all the talk about Reaves, the one thing he did sound fired up about was how well the team had played in his absence.

“It’s how you find out about your team and your teammates," he said. "[Injuries] happened to us a few times last year and made us a lot stronger. They’ve done a great job. There’s nothing better than when you’re out watching games and your team’s out there playing great and playing together and guys stepping up. It’s great to see.”

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Bryce Harper is very interested in a number of teams, according to Scott Boras

Bryce Harper is very interested in a number of teams, according to Scott Boras

Scott Boras, the most famous agent in baseball and the man who represents Bryce Harper, held his annual press conference at the Winter Meetings on Wednesday, and as he quipped himself, “Bryce dominated the conversation” this year.

It’s no surprise, considering Harper’s stature within the game, his impressive resume as a 26-year old free agent, and his long-rumored desire to become the highest-paid player in baseball history.

As someone trying to maximize Harper’s next contract, Boras was sure to refer to the star outfielder in glowing terms.

Historic. Generational. Iconic.

These adjectives are to be expected from an agent in Boras’ position. And, of course, Boras made all the right comments about Harper being open to multiple teams. The more bidders, the higher the bidding goes.

Harper taking such an interest in the business side of things was unexpected from many organizations, though.

“We’ve delivered literally well over two to three thousand pages of information to Bryce through this process. He’s a great student of the game,” Boras told members of the media on Wednesday. “[In meetings] They’re shocked about his understanding of the business model, franchise value, he’s very adept.”

Harper is making it a point to consider a multitude of factors during the biggest decision of his life. It’s a choice he’ll have to live with for years, and he is considering more than just money. Clearly, he’s taking the long view over a short-term outlook.

Boras even confirmed that their team was looking at farm systems for Harper’s respective suitors, to help envision where each franchise is headed and his client’s role within each organization. And again, Harper has been determined to be a part of this evaluation process. 

“We’ve given Bryce exhaustive reviews of every organization, he’s very studied of each, his evaluation when looking at it. He’s been very active in our dialogues discussing this with teams.”

Boras also acknowledged Mark Lerner’s earlier comments about the Nationals being discouraged about potentially bringing back Harper, though he was quick to emphasize that when GM Mike Rizzo says the door remains open, that fans and the media should pay attention.

The Yankees are another potential suitor whose recent comments have led fans to believe they may be out of the running, but Boras made it clear that Harper is still considering several franchises.

“Any free agent has goals about family and their value and the organization they play for. Bryce is open to a lot of different venues, it’s really about the owner’s commitment and what they want to do long term,” Boras told reporters. 

“I think Bryce is open to geography, what he’s looking for is ownership to make sure he has every opportunity to achieve his goals. Win a world championship, play on competitive teams every year, as best as teams can be competitive annually in today’s game, and a lot of owners believe their franchise can do that.”

The question is, does Harper believe these franchises can do it? Does he believe the Nationals can?

Boras, Harper and the Nationals have a great relationship according to the agent. And each party has a clear understanding of the other. It would certainly seem like Washington is still in the running to ink Harper, though that can be said of several different teams at this point. Not every team is operating publicly, either.

“This is not a race where every car is labeled. A lot of people want to keep what they’re doing private,” Boras explained. “Some clubs are more open and direct about what they’re doing, some clubs want a private process.”

The proverbial “mystery team” appears to very much still be in play here, and there’s no real timeline for when the decision will be made. Boras implied something could be one or two meetings away from happening, or that they could be weeks or even months away from finalizing a deal.

Wherever he ends up, Boras is confident Bryce will make a major impact, both with his play on the field and the interest he’ll drum up among the fanbase. He’s also a big believer in Harper’s presence in the clubhouse, even as a player not yet in his prime.

When asked about Harper’s leadership abilities, Boras suggested to a reporter that “maybe you should call Juan Soto and ask him about that.”

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